Thursday, September 19, 2013

So here's what I've been up to

Sorry to leave you all hanging (well... as far as I can tell, all two dozen-odd or so of you, but I have big hopes for this blog's audience growing in the future).

I've been spending a couple weeks struggling with mild illness and an enormous amount of work, both day-job-related and personal-business-related, but I haven't forgotten you, gentle readers.

In fact, here, have a present, a Vine I did as an audition for a social-media-based ad campaign by, on the topic "What does it feel like to be in love?":

The projects that have taken up my time since waving farewell to the Cleveland Shakespeare Festival are diverse, but the biggest one was being part of the diversity presentation at John Carroll University's freshman orientation.

That was a trip for me. I still remember guiltily feeling bored at the diversity presentation at my OWN freshman orientation. The fact that now more than a decade separates me and this year's incoming college freshman class fills me with dread of my own mortality and the relentless march of time, as well as giving me the urge to acquire some kind of facial piercing.

The hardest thing about it was that I was playing multiple characters -- a professor who had immigrated from China, and a Chinese international student -- where it was integral to their character that they spoke in a thick Chinese accent.

Admittedly this isn't the first time I've been called on to do it, and it is an accent I grew up on my whole life, so it wasn't totally nerve-racking for me. But, as I said in the Q&A we had after the show, when you've spent your whole life trying to sound as "normal" and "American" as possible, intentionally putting on a "broken English" accent is triggering in all sorts of ways, and it's a delicate tightrope doing so in a way that's sensitive to the character while also reflecting the reality of that character's struggle to communicate.

Perhaps the biggest thing that freaked me out about playing those characters was my wife telling me I ended up sounding just like my dad. Unsurprising, considering who my model for the accent was, but still... I'm not sure I'm ready for people to be saying that to me yet.

In any case the experience would not have been anywhere near as rewarding as it was if not for our director, Michael Oatman, a consummate professional capable of breaking down a scene moment-by-moment at the same time as regaling us with heartwarming stories about growing up amid gang violence and hate crimes in East Cleveland. I learned a lot and I hope to work with him again.

Now for my next project -- I'm in front of a camera! I've been cast in MAD Vista Productions' indie feature film Cleanland.

Sort of the exact opposite of doing an uplifting and optimistic piece about racial healing, Cleanland is a gritty look at corruption, chaos and criminality. My mother was always afraid of me being brutally murdered on the streets of Cleveland -- now she'll finally get to see it happen!

You can sign up for updates about the project at the MAD Vista Productions website:

as well as read their maddeningly terse synopsis of the plot of Cleanland.

I've signed an NDA so the details are still hush-hush. Let's just say I'm planning to re-watch Frank Miller's Sin City soon as research for my (minor, but badass) role.

And that's it for now. Though I continue to remain, as always, overcaffeinated, underslept and always auditioning. Keep in touch about opportunities coming down the pike, gentle readers, and I'll do the same for all of you.

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